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  • Elle Sten

Fall Night

Fall night became a yearly tradition when we were first married, and it stuck. Though I prefer summer, and always hold out decorating and celebrating Autumn as long as possible, when it's here the traditions are welcomed with open arms. Historically, our fall nights involved Twisted Pretzel Shocktop (Since discontinued) for me and Sam Adams Oktoberfest for him. This year though, our fall kickoff involved fridge beer for him and a full Fall afternoon for mama during the baby's nap.


We went to the farmer's market in search of artichokes and quickly found I was too late in the season. We settled on strawberries, which fortunately in this part of the world are almost entirely year-round. The flavor is unparalleled by anything store-bought.


More of a summer treat, central coast strawberries are no respecter of seasons. Then again, it's nearly summer year-round. I'm a rare breed that will take sunny mild weather, palm trees, and flavorful fruit over distinct seasons and changing trees any day. Bonus: the '9ers won the first time he wore this shirt so it's a good-luck shirt for the season!


Once back home, and the groceries were unloaded, it was nap time.


Mama settled in for an afternoon of toffee-making, bread baking, soup simmering, and candle crafting. Plus a little fire incident on the stove trying to empty old candles... You know.... Fall sh*t.


'First order of business: Toffee Making.


I've been craving a good, buttery-English toffee for DAYS now. Finally found a recipe that I of course had to modify. For an extra fall-touch I added a "tree bark" chocolate topping.


English toffee recipe:

2 cups (4 sticks) butter

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup milk

1 tsp salt


Optional Chocolate topping:

Melt 2 bars of semisweet baking chocolate in a microwave safe dish in 30 second increments. Stir between increments and repeat until melty and smooth. Add 2 TBSP of heavy cream, mix until incorporated. Spoon over toffee once hardened.


For a tree bark effect, dip a pastry brush in oil of choice and drag across chocolate to smooth. A fun fall touch!


Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and just slightly brown before adding the sugar to the pan. Add sugar, salt, and milk, and stir. Bring to a boil and cook to 300 degrees (The hard crack temperature). A candy thermometer, as pictured, is the best way to monitor the temperature. Careful not to boil over. Pour into a 9X13 baking dish and let harden (several hours room temp).



Next: Candle crafting. I've saved my fall scents for this!

CAUTION!: DO NOT HEAT OLD CANDLES IN GLASS JARS DIRECTLY ON THE STOVE! USE A BOILED POT OF HOT WATER. I SHATTERED TWO CANDLES AT ONCE AND THEY ALL CAUGHT ON FIRE. IT WAS A MESS THAT ALMOST CAUSED A HUGE KITCHEN FIRE!



Ah yes, candle safety. So important. I would've had some more white wax to pour on top of this acorn candle had I not shattered jars and caused a huge mess, but I am still enjoying my quaint, fall afternoon.


Followed by bread baking. I wanted Texas toast style bread (which is apparently made with egg bread), for sopping up tonight's soup and tomorrow's brisket the hubby plans to make.

Baby woke from his nap after the dough had proofed. He got to help with his favorite part: punching the dough down.


He enjoyed playing and pinching the dough after the initial punch. He then found the dough reminded him of something because while I held him he grabbed and played with my arm the same way. Thanks kid, I can take a hint.



First loaf sliced, second fresh out of the oven for tomorrow. The natural pull from the loaf pan was perfect.


While the second loaf baked, in the top oven I roasted broccoli for a healthier broccoli cheese soup. Using milk and broth instead of cream, the roasted florets were the star of the soup. My favorite part is that you assemble and simmer while the broccoli roasts, and add it at the very end so the meal is ready as soon as it comes out of the oven just about.


I got it all done in time for fall night! As soon as hubby got home, and with the windows still open from my fire-capade, he smelled the sauteed onions and fragrance from the soup and baking bread as he walked up to the house. "Something smells incredible!" He declared, as baby squealed "dadadada!" when he walked in.


Dinner was tabled and ready within minutes.

Broccoli cheese soup was a winner with this one!


Once he went down for the night, we enjoyed a fire and "tea time" with flowering apple cinnamon tea and the English toffee.


my favorite fall accent



We put on a movie, and I got to paint some fall nails while I unwound. Overall, a perfect afternoon and evening.


Be well,


Elle.

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